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GAS FITTER GETS FIRST EVER JAIL SENTENCE FOR WORKING UNREGISTERED

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The first gas fitter to be jailed for working without being legally ...
The first gas fitter to be jailed for working without being legally

registered was given a four-month sentence at Derwent magistrates'

court, Derby, on 7 May.

Mark Towle, of Stapleford, Nottingham, was

prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under Section

33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in contravention

of the requirements imposed by a Prohibition Notice. The Notice

prohibited Mr Towle from undertaking work in relation to gas fittings

until he was Corgi registered and competent. The notice was issued as

the result of an HSE/CORGI investigation into a dangerous gas fitting

in 1999.

He was charged under Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations

1998, Regulation 3 (3) in that he carried out work in relation to a

gas fitting whilst not a member of CORGI and under regulation 3 (7)

in that he falsely pretended to be CORGI registered.

He was jailed for four months for breaking the prohibition order.

In sentencing, the magistrate stated that, after considering all the

facts, the matter was so serious that a custodial sentence was

justified. Mr Towle had continued to undertake gas work despite the

Prohibition Notice. They stated that Mr Towle should serve no less

than half the four-month sentence and that there were no separate

penalties for the other matters.

HSE Inspector Mark Dawson, who prosecuted the case, said: 'This

sentence reflects the most serious nature of the breaches and should

act as a warning to those gas installers who are not members of CORGI

but who continue to undertake gas work. Prohibition notices are

issued when HSE inspectors consider there to be a risk of serious

personal injury arising from any work activity. The breach of a

prohibition notice is one of the most serious matters in health and

safety law and the penalties that may be imposed reflect this.

'Every year about 30 people die and 200 suffer from carbon monoxide

poisoning as a result of faulty gas fires, central heating boilers,

cookers, and other appliances. There are tight laws to try to prevent

these kinds of incidents, and HSE's job is to make sure these laws

are enforced.'

The prosecution is the latest of six in the last few months in Derby

alone, where HSE has been cracking down on gas safety, particularly

amongst the city's private landlords.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are easily mistaken

for 'flu'. Tell-tale signs include tiredness, drowsiness, headaches,

pains in the chest and stomach, and lethargy. If you suspect that you

or any of your family have been exposed to CO, then seek medical help

immediately. Tell your GP you think these symptoms may be related to

CO exposure; they will be able to tell by means of a blood test.

All gas appliances should be tested annually by a qualified, CORGI

registered gas fitter.

Notes

1. By law, every gas fitter has to be CORGI-registered.

2. Over the last 10 years an average of 40 people have died each

year in gas-related incidents in their own homes; many more have

suffered ill-health as a result of CO poisoning. Poorly-installed

or badly-maintained gas appliances and flues caused the majority of

these incidents.

3. If you smell gas, or suspect there is a gas escape, you should

immediately shut off the gas supply and phone the Transco Gas

Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111999

4. Carbon monoxide can be given off by any appliance which burns

fossil fuels such as gas, coal or oil. Excess gas, which is

poisonous, is produced when the fuel does not burn properly. It can

kill or maim without warning in just a matter of hours. Last year,

there were 31 gas-related fatalities, of which 24 resulted from

carbon monoxide poisoning.

5. HSE recently completed a fundamental review of the current gas

safety regime; the 47 recommendations made in the report 'Gas

Safety Review Proposals for Change', including action on publicity

and awareness, have been accepted by the Health and Safety

Commission and ministers. A copy of the report is available from

HSE's Gas Safety webpages .

6. To check if gas installers are registered with CORGI phone:

01256 372300. Free advice can also be obtained by phoning the HSE

Gas Safety Advice Line: 0800 300363.

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